I’m back! I’ve just spent an amazing month travelling around Europe. It was my second trip there and I tried to soak in every minute of it. Of course every holiday must come to an end and I was quite glad to be home after a month of hauling our bags around from destination to destination.
This trip was a bit different than past travel as we were spending the first leg of the trip with the band doing a couple of shows so had to travel with our guitars as well as our luggage to all destinations. Unfortunately sending our stuff home was not an option. Many dollars were spent on that luggage, carting it across eight flights not too mention much the difficulty of carrying around 8kg backpacks on top of our other baggage. Not to say that we packed excessively but the situation certainly wasn’t ideal.
I looked over at travellers with one small carry on bag and envied them to no end! A man caught my eye walking around at Buckingham Palace with his tiny suitcase. At the same time, I watched people in the check in lines with bag after bag of stuff trying to assess what on Earth they possibly needed to bring in all those bags. (Faroese and Icelanders you are completely exempt your prices are ouch!). I knew where I wanted to be on the packing spectrum!
I was keen to take on the challenge of fitting our stuff into one suitcase for a month in Europe to see how little I could travel with. After travelling numerous times around the world I feel like with each trip I learn to get by with less and less and definitely feel that having less is more.
Here are 16 Easy Tips on How to Pack Minimally for Travel that have helped me keep our baggage minimal and essential.
- Use packing cubes to organise clothing.
I have never used these previously but was convinced after watching many packing videos that they were bound to make life on the road easier and more organised. On most trips I have found myself trying to find a sock or pajama top or something that was lost in the midst of my luggage bag, only to destroy the organisation of my bag in order to find said item. With these I could simply take them out and place them in a drawer or shelf and easily find what I needed.
These were a complete lifesaver on our trip. At one point we were over our baggage limit and facing the prospect of open our baggage and go through our unmentionables in view of the line behind us, we simply grabbed one of the larger packing cubes out to hold and voila we were under the baggage limit! They also give you a little piece of mind that if you ever had an issue with your luggage breaking you can easily grab your packing cubes and avert any huge crisis!
2. Use small containers for beauty products, creams etc.
If you’re anything like me you have a myriad of beauty products that come with bottles of all shapes and sizes. When you are trying to pack these for a trip those large bottles can quickly add weight to your bag and take up considerable space. I love travelling but I am not going to do without my creature comforts.
For the past few trips I have been utilising small containers to help myself pack minimally and reduce the amount of products and large bottles I need to bring. These are great for storing bulky products like night creams, hand creams, moisturisers, toner, exfoliator etc. They can be found at any cheap shop, grocery store, chemist or online. I particularly love the silicon squeezable tubes that are so easy to use and store a lot more of your product! I now can easily fit my different beauty needs without taking up too much valuable space.
3. Roll your clothing
Rolling your clothing can help you better organise your stuff. It can help you see what you have at a glance rather than piling everything on top of one another. It also helps to reduce your clothes from getting wrinkled. Some believe rolling your clothes creates more space but Tortuga Backpacks suggest that it only moves the space from the sides to the top of the bag. On my trip I personally felt like rolling did make it easier to fit more stuff in so would recommend it. Rolling your socks and packing them into your sneakers or shoes can save some extra space as well!
4. Pack enough clothes for seven days only
It can be amazing how long you can survive with a small wardrobe! For Europe I packed two pairs of jeans, two other bottoms, a dress, two jackets, a pair of swimmers, two pairs of boots and a pair of thongs and about ten shirts. I thought that that would be a minimal wardrobe but when having access to a washing machine in our Airbnbs I really never got close to running out of clothes. If you have access to a launderette or washing machine or even, just hand wash your clothes as you need them you can help you get away with even less.
5. Pack a capsule wardrobe
By packing a capsule wardrobe you can pack minimally and ensure that your outfit packing choices can mix and match and give you a range of outfits to choose from. By sticking to 2-3 main colours you can ensure most clothes can be worn with others and increase your options.
6. Review the weather of your destination before packing
On my first trip to Europe I was still new to overseas travel and really had no idea what weather I was in for. I packed a few summery items as we travelled in late September and I figured like our Autumn, it would still be reasonably warm. It wasn’t. I did not think to pack scarves, beanies, gloves or a warm enough jacket and so a lot of my packed luggage went unworn. The same thing happened for Thailand, I packed two pairs of jeans and didn’t wear them after I got off the plan and ended up having to buy a few clothes that were more weather appropriate.
I knew the next time I travelled I would be more prepared! Before you head overseas review the weather forecast for the locations you are going and research on Pinterest what to pack for your destination and the appropriate season. Don’t pack a bag full of things you won’t need and regret leaving the things you will at home.
>>If you want to learn more about minimalism and it’s benefits check out 13 Benefits of a Smaller Home
7. Limit shoes
Where possible limit your shoe selections to 2-3 pairs including a pair of comfy walking shoes. On my first Europe trip we both ended up binning a pair of shoes we had that became increasingly uncomfortable to walk in and ended up buying new ones which isn’t the easiest when you are in a foreign country (and certainly not cheap!). Don’t get carried away trying to bring a shoe for each occasion or outfit. Ideally bring something for walking, something dressier and if necessary something activity appropriate like hiking books or things if you plan to go to the beach.
8. Download Audio and eBooks before you leave home
In the past I would often bring two books to read on a trip. One I was currently reading and another to start when I finished. Sometimes this became bothersome particularly if I didn’t end up reading much on my trip and still had to lug around a book. Give yourself some space and get the Audible or Kindle app before your trip or OverDrive to save on valuable space without forgoing your reading.
9. Keep make-up minimal
Make up products can easily get out of hand travelling. Stick to your favourite products and avoid doubles. Bring one foundation, one eyeshadow pallete, blush and so on. Just stick to the basics. I found on my trip after bringing a small bag of make up I ended up only using about six items each day. My ideal six were; mascara, eyeliner, BB cream, blush, & an eyebrow pencil with some lucas paw paw ointment.
10. Get a travel perfume/cologne spray bottle
Bringing a bulky perfume bottle can be avoided by buying perfume travel bottles. This also avoids the risk of your bottle being damaged in transit and save you valuable space. (NB: Try and find a quality one, my $2 version leaked on the flight over :()
>>If you want to learn more about minimalism and it’s benefits check out The True Cost of Our Stuff
11. Limit Hair Tools, products and accessories
Pack minimally by not going overboard with the hair stuff. If you are staying in a hotel or Airbnb they will most likely provide you with a sufficient hair dryer. Bring the hair straightener if you absolutely have to. You’re on holidays leave the fancy stuff for home!
12. Limit your accessories
Keep accessories to a minimum, the last thing you want to worry about overseas is losing a sentimental piece of jewellery. Pick a handful of accessories to bring with you and leave the others at home. Two necklaces, one bracelet, a belt, a watch, one other pair of earrings and a pair of sunnies should be more than enough to accessorise with. Wear one piece and pack the other to limit what is in your baggage even further. I bought two necklaces, a watch, sunnies and a mix of bracelets and that was plenty for me 🙂
13. Use products that double up for other uses
Using Dr Bronners soap can give you one soap for a variety of uses. It can be used as a facial cleanser, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent and hand soap to name a few. This can save you bringing many other products or buying any at your destination. Moisturiser can be used as eye make up remover as well as shaving cream. A microfibre towel can be a back up towel as well as a handy tool for drying your washing.
14. Pack clothes that are easy to dry
Where possible pack a few items that can be washed and dried easily to help your clothes dry faster. The quicker your clothes dry the quicker you can be wearing them again.
15. Downsize your handbag and wallet
Before you leave for your trip, clear out your wallet of any receipts, cards etc that you will not be needing. Only bring the essential. Leave your over-sized handbag at home as well and opt for a smaller bag that will be easier to carry day to day. Preferably an over the shoulder ones so your hands can be free.
What are your tips to pack minimally? Do you travel with the same number of clothes for each trip? Share your tips for travelling minimally below in the comments 🙂